Thursday, June 08, 2017

Marianne Moore, George Plimpton and Muhammad Ali

[Ali] announced that if she was the greatest poetess in the country, the two of them should produce something together -- "I am a poet, too," he said -- a joint effort sonnet, it was to be, with each of them doing alternate lines. Miss Moore nodded vaguely. Ali was very much the more decisive of the pair, picking not only the form but also the topic: "Mrs. Moore and I are going to write a sonnet about my upcoming fight in Houston with Ernie Terrell," he proclaimed to the table. "Mrs. Moore and I will show the world with this great poem who is who and what is what and who is going to win."

"We will call it 'A Poem on the Annihilation of Ernie Terrell,' " Miss Moore announced. "Let us be serious but not grim."

"She's cute," Ali commented.

A pen was produced. Ali was given a menu on which to write. He started off with half the first line -- "After we defeat" -- and asked Miss Moore to write in Ernie Terrell (which she misspelled "Ernie Tyrell" in her spidery script) just to get her "warmed up."

I seem to recall an article by Plimpton, who had introduced Moore to Ali, on taking Moore to a baseball game too, but I can't find it right now.

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